Lately, I’ve been mesmerized with steam and how it wafts in waves that can change depending on many factors such as temperature or the size and shape of the food item.
Watching steam is one thing but photographing steam and food is tricky. You have to have the right lighting, an object that is fresh from the heat source, and the ability to work quickly. I’ve been fascinated with photographing steam for quite some time some time now, and decided that it will be my food photography theme of this year. Sadly, this means that sweet baked goods that are eaten at room temperature are going to be out of the picture (pun intended!) so I will have to be creative in finding some recipes that make for good food photography steam photos.
These cornbread muffins were the perfect subject because they held their heat for quite some time, until they were split open. I always have loved cornbread (and most breads) with butter so I couldn’t resist trying to photograph the melting effect of that as well.
I grew up with savory cornbread that has a more “bready” texture than “cakey” texture so that is the type of cornbread muffin I am sharing here. The secret to a good cornbread texture is to not overmix the batter and work quickly. You want to incorporate the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until the dry ingredients are moistened and then stop there. And lastly, pull them out of the oven right when they are baked through. I added bacon and scallions to these for an extra savory component but feel free to omit them if you want to go for a more classic flavor.
My favorite bite is the one where the butter has soaked through.
Cornbread Muffins with Bacon and Scallions
Adapted from the Cornbread from Mary’s Bread Basket and Soup Kettle
Yields: 12 muffins
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2-3 strips of bacon cut into bite-sized pieces
3 green onions, chopped
1⅛ cups milk
4 tablespoons melted butter
Preheat oven to 425ºF. Spray a muffin pan and set aside.
Sift dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Toss bacon pieces and green onions in the dry ingredients to coat. In a medium bowl, combine the milk, eggs and butter, stirring until well blended. With a rubber spatula, make a well in the dry ingredients. Pour milk mixture in all at once. Stir quickly to just moisten the dry ingredients. Do not overmix. Having some clumps that are not incorporated is okay. Pour batter into muffin tins and bake for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Serve immediately with butter if desired.